The stats of Microsoft's next gaming platform, the Xbox One, are truly impressive.
According to Wired, in comparison to today's Xbox the Xbox One will have:
- 8 times the graphics performance.
- 5 billion transistors, a ten-fold increase.
- 8 GB of memory, up from 512 MB.
- A custom built Blue Ray drive.
- A 500GB hard drive.
Bigger, better, faster. Wow.
So why is it that my reaction is mostly meh?
Perhaps my lack of enthusiasm for the Xbox One is routed in the fact that sitting in one place for hours and interacting with a gaming device is something that I will never ever do. Even a gaming device that I can talk to and gesture at, and that can control every electronic device in my house, is still a piece of technology that fails to match my life.
When I play games it will be when I have a few minutes to spare. It will probably not be at home. It will be when I'm traveling, or in-between places, or have a few minutes to kill.
The games I buy will be one's that I will only play a few times, so they better be cheap.
To the extent that I play games (and I'll admit that I am not a hardcore, or even a softcore, gamer), I will play on my mobile device.
Microsoft may invent the world's greatest device to hook up to a TV and play the world's most realistic games. But unless I ever sit in front of my TV (which I don't), this technology will go un-purchased.
Which brings us to higher ed.
We are probably a good deal like Microsoft. We've been successful. We are big. We know how to continuously improve what we do. We can improve our courses, upgrade our campuses, re-design our classrooms.
Whatever the equivalent is in higher ed to adding more transistors and memory and processors, we can do that.
It's worth asking, however, if continuous improvement is really what we need in higher ed? Will continuous improvement address the fundamental issues we face around costs, access, and quality variation?
Is higher education following the same path as gaming? Are students moving to ahead of us to new platforms for learning and accreditation? Platforms that are more flexible, lower in cost, and designed around their needs rather than ours?
Are we busily building the higher ed equivalent of the Xbox One, where instead we should be fundamentally re-thinking postsecondary?